Memory encoding and behavioural change

Memory research is an important field of study which is typically divided into three areas. Encoding, storage and retrieval of memories having been empirically studied since the 19th century, after the psychological sciences took a departure from the field of philosophy. 
At the time of a memory being encoded into the human mind, there are multiple things in the environment that are being perceived at once. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings and even the internal state of the body at the time of the memory being encoded, and registered as part of the encoding process in order to form the ‘memory trace’
In the 1970’s, there was a wealth of interest into understanding how memory encoding and memory retrieval are related. The results and conclusions of such studies could then be available for application in a variety of ways including education, personal development, governance, marketing and business too name a few.

One line of research, headed by researchers such as Craik, Lockhart and Tulving, lead to relatively robust theories about memory retrieval that I will elaborate on in order to demonstrate how empirical evidence within the field of memory research can be used and applied specifically on the field of education, specifically facilitation of groups of adult learners.

According to Craik & Lockhart(1972), the extent to which memories are encoded is dependant on which processes are in play at the time of encoding. They developed the ‘levels of processing’ theory, commonly criticised for its use of the metaphor of depth to convey memory encoding processes. Craik & Lockhart found evidence for and concluded that information can be encoded in 3 different levels which are shallow, medium and deep(for a full review of this theory see Craik & Lockhart, 1972)

My current thoughts

If semantic depth results in more robust encoding, then it stands to reason that the more task-relevant cognitive and affective processes are activated during the construction of imagined scenarios based on components of remembered experiences, the higher likelihood of encoding being carried out at depth on a semantic level that can be utilised for sustainable behavioural change on a physiological level and beyond.

There is a lot more to this, but I’m on an iPad tapping away and I’ll need to continue at a later date 

Darren Shaw BSc(hons) MBPsS

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